Tarps are big, noisy, and should be a part of everyone's survival plan due to the many things for which they can be used. The versatility of a tarp should not be underestimated as they can rise to many occasions and fill a lot of the different voids we many experience in our life and travels. Above all else, tarps are cheap, so why not add a couple to your stash for when the time comes that you just might need them?
The word tarp comes from tarpaulin, which is defined as a large sheet of canvas of urethane coated polyester that is water-resistant or may even be waterproof. The definition alone should fill you with ideas for which such a fantastic item can be used, but if you need a little inspiration, that is what we're here to provide. Some great tarp uses are:
Ground cover to create a barrier between yourself and wet ground when sleeping outdoors.
To form a stretcher for carrying the wounded by attaching it to two tree limbs or poles.
Creating a tent or other form of shelter, possibly even a bivy sack.
A body bag for someone who has passed on.
Collecting, transporting or holding water, be it in small amounts such as a bucket or in large amounts by lining the bed of a truck.
An area to dress game and/or wrap meat when you're done.
Patches for leaks in roofs or elsewhere.
Makeshift floatation such as a raft.
A cover for keeping firewood dry.
Sail for a boat.
Poncho for rainstorms.
To create a solar still.
As shade for cool-weather crops.
Tarps are some of the best supplies you can have for when unexpected problems arise since there is so much you can accomplish with them. Having one at home, in your car, and in your BOB may prove advantageous, even if you only pack a small one. If you have not thought about the possible uses for a tarp before, start thinking about it now.
Something similar in composition and use to tarps are billboards. Please do not take this as inspiration to scale a billboard and tear it down for your survival needs, but should a billboard fall into your lap, it can be used in much the same way as a tarp. After hurricane Katrina, all of the billboards in my area were gone, having yielded to powerful winds and separated from their frames. As they came to rest in the yards of people with damaged roofs, those people used them as temporary roof patches. The composition of billboards may have changed since then (haven't had one land in my yard in a few years so I can't say for sure) but it is very possible that if something billboard in nature finds its way to ground level, that you can use it in much the same way as a tarp to give yourself a means of survival where there otherwise is not one.